Rumor: Apple TV refresh, 1080p iTunes Store to join iPad 3 announcement

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In addition to the expected announcement of the iPad 3 at a media event in early March, new rumors and speculation suggest that we could see a revised Apple TV alongside the new tablet. Shortages of the current Apple TV and the possibility of 1080p iTunes content are fueling the refresh rumors.

A report from 9to5Mac notes that inventory of Apple’s set-top box at many big retailers is either very low or non-existent. A quick search at Best Buy’s website showed the product page for the Apple TV couldn’t be found. Furthermore, the unit isn’t shipping online and was only available in three out of 10 stores in my area.

Amazon shows zero new items for sale in addition to listing the product as the 2010 model. Walmart has removed the Apple TV from their online inventory while Target indicates they are sold out. Radio Shack reveals the unit is available in-stores only but I couldn’t find any in my area for purchase.

While there are still a few resellers that do have the set-top box in stock, the massive shortage likely means that Apple is planning a refresh in the near future (or maybe discontinuing the line in favor of the iTV due out later this year or in 2013). It wouldn’t make sense to host a media event just for the Apple TV so it’s likely that we will see an update at the iPad 3 announcement early next month.

In support of the Apple TV refresh rumor, MacRumors points out that Apple will likely introduce 1080p iTunes content to run on the iPad 3’s high-resolution 2048 x 1536 Retina Display in the near future. A refreshed Apple TV would be the next logical step if the company does launch the 1080p iTunes Store.

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